Desdemona is an intimate and profound staged concert by Rokia Traore, Toni Morrison and Peter Sellars.
In response to Peter Sellars’s 2009 Othello, Nobel Prize-winning novelist Toni Morrison and the Malian singer/songwriter Rokia Traoré collaborate with Sellars to create an intimate and profound conversation between Shakespeare’s Desdemona and her African nurse Barbary from beyond the grave.
Rokia Traoré, the great young singer from Mali, has written the songs and sings the role of Barbary. The musical texture includes African and Western instruments, whose quiet, probing, and gently luminous qualities intensify the intimacy of the evening.
Toni Morrison has written the text that weaves the multiple histories that transmute Shakespeare’s play, for four centuries one of the most iconic, central, and disturbing treatments of race in all of Western culture, into the new realities and potential outcomes that face a rising generation of the early 21st century.
In responding to Shakespeare, and finally letting these women, who are mostly silent in Shakespeare, speak and sing in the fullness of their minds and their hearts, Toni Morrison, Peter Sellars and Rokia Traoré have created their own composite work of art that will speak and sing and bear witness to the stirrings of a new era.